This is a project with the extremely talented team from Acrodance.
AcrOdance by Anna Omiridi is a brilliant combination of acrobatics and creative dance. Acrobatic routines are integrated seamlessly into choreographies with emphasis on guided improvisation. The main concept of this approach is that movement and exercise, as creative expressions, hold a significant role in human lives and help in structuring positive self-awareness and knowledge of oneself. Thus strengthening your body and building your muscles will allow you to experience mental uplift.
I have to say that during this cooperation, all performers responded with unlimited energy, drive and professionalism; this comes as no surprise since their chosen discipline demands these virtues unconditionally. And I have to admit I much prefer working with dance/performance artists for exactly this reason. It should also be mentioned that the Acrodance team has a lot of experience with photographic projects, having collaborated with a a considerable number of local and international photographers.
Concerning the project, our concept was that of an ensemble of performers that find themselves trapped in a series of travels inside a type of purgatory, where they have to reenact their routines in a dreamy/symbolic setting, in order to purify and absolve themselves from prior sins. The whole project was shot on location, during a 3-day trip (which was also very reminiscent of that of a travelling troupe).
Concept and styling: AcrOdance by Anna Omiridi
Makeup and hair styling: Lina Dolora Eisenberg
The Acrodance team:
An editorial shot utilizing of multiple speedlights (making heavy use of flare) , color gels and smoke, while featuring special make-up and outfits.
Models: Maria Karakosta and Maria Mela
Make Up: Christina Ziliaskopoulou
Costumes, props and styling: Elena Lizardou of Ekfrasi Dance School
Danai Maltezou is a hugely charismatic aerial performer, whom I had the pleasure to meet (and shoot) a few months ago, in the Nefelopetra Aqua live performance. This time we arranged for a more “formal” shooting, where Danai performed a number of highly impressive routines; which I tried to capture in the best way possible.
I may sound repetitive, but performers in general (dancers, acrobats, actors, etc) are the best possible material as far as cooperation and chemistry are concerned. They always have something to give and for as many times as needed in order to get the perfect shot. It is almost as our work as photographers becomes uncomfortably easy... hmmm....
Apart from Danai I must also extend my gratitude to the very hospitable Pole Passion Studio in Piraeus, where the shooting took place.
Here are some samples from a photo-shoot we did some time ago with A.M.
We set it up in a theatrical theme with the masks introducing the element of identity, truth, and interaction. Are the masks we wear our habitual protection from reality? What about the faces we wear every day? And how about, even, the naked skin: does it reveal or conceal the truth in us?
Make-up was done by A.M. herself, concept and styling by both. Without further ado, here is the gallery, please enjoy! As always, click on a thumbnail for the full image:
A perfromance by the “Nefelopetra” group (which is, of course, Greek, and could be translated as “Cloudstone”), which was formed in 2009 by Nefeli Markaki and Petros Politis. At this point I will let their own words describe the modus operandi:
Three musicians, an electric guitarist, electric violinist and electric cellist playing live music, create a music loop using a looping station. As the mysterious musical atmosphere is now created, the music continues and the artists calmly put down their instruments and begin to climb upon the aerial silks…
Our company’s motive is to mix many art forms into one performance, just using 6 artists. With dance, aerial skills (silks, rope, net), video projections and live, original music, we become a dark and mysterious acrobatic/music act with a twist. All choreography, music composition, photography, film editing, lighting design and costuming are done solely by the artists of Nefelopetra.
I will again let the artists themselves describe the inspirations, goals and concept of this specific performance, aptly named “Aqua”:
Inspired by philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, six artists descend into deep waters, defy gravity and explore the mysteries of life...
Human, a very complicated entity, strives to always reach high, to explore and tame his environment and to surpass himself. But how often during this journey to “success” or “completeness” do we take the time to glance upwards towards the stars? How often are we too busy and overwhelmed by the strains of reality? How often do we lose our sense of identity entirely?
Perhaps water, the element that embraced us in the womb, where life began, holds the clue to rediscovering this feeling of wholeness. Maybe the waters that cover our planet’s surface and the element that continues to flow through us is actively linked to our souls.
Aqua is a performance about the human drive to reach towards the impossible and how the cool waters of the soul, guide us along our journey. Just waiting for us to listen to their song and notice their reflections…
Christina has been my colleague for a couple of years now, performing make-up duties for a number of projects. She’s also a dancer as well as an all-around great kid.
After all that time, she finally managed to persuade herself she should try standing in front of the camera, instead of being somewhere behind, usually shooting embarrassing backstage footage on her smartphone.
This is how we decided on an impromptu glamour-style shooting done in an available (and, fortunately, empty at the time) nightclub. At this point, many thanks to John for providing the facilities!
Hope you agree that Christina is equally good in the modeling role, and please enjoy the gallery below! As always, click on the thumbnail for a larger version. Cheers!
Here is a recent shooting made for commercial use by the Greek dealer of a major nutritional supplements company. This was done on location, in a traditional bodybuilding-oriented gym in Athens.
My model was Lia Tzagaraki, a young upcoming fitness competitor. Although this was her first experience in front of the camera, she did great on this occasion. And that’s because I just asked her to behave as natural as possible; in other words, this was just another day of hard, no holds-barred training at the gym. Which means the gym was actually open and other regulars were also training at the time, as usual. This emphasis in real life conditions is what made this shooting effective, in my opinion, despite the technical difficulties. Many thanks to Lia for showing such commitment and drive.
I have to also thank George Koutaliaris -an experienced and successful bodybuilding athlete himself- as well as his wife Agni for offering the gym for the shooting and being super helpful with anything we needed. It was great fun!
Please enjoy a gallery from the shooting, gear details can be found, as usual, immediately after it
Pole dancing has emerged, during the last decade or so, as a very popular fitness trend, slowly but surely washing away the stigma of night and strip club connection. A growing number of young -and not so young- women, and, in recent times, also men, choose it as their favorite fitness pursuit. Thus, it is not peculiar that, as a modern sport, "vertical dance" as it is sometimes called, is even considered as a full Olympics event.
This photoshoot is from an afternoon with the talented instructors from Polosi Pole Studio, in Athens. The school was founded in 2006 by Eleftheria Yiayi, and, in fact, it was the first school introducing pole dancing as a fitness endeavor in Greece. Since that time, a large number of the school's students have become instructors and school owners themselves, further spreading the popularity of this discipline.
Performers: performers, Alice Konsolaki, Annie Karavia, Aretousa Schina and Dani Patroni
A photoshoot in a Goth-type style, with the magnificent Madam Mosquito.
Model: Mary Mosquito
Special thanks to Gavriel Badras for the assistance and Elena Lizardou for helping with props.
These is regular Street photography with the twist being the "cinematic" style applied. Since the word may have different meanings for different people, and because quite a few people do this, I should explain the way I see this line of work better.
The principal purpose is conveying a certain mood and feel through the photograph, by a combination of subject, gesture, framing and color. This is a subjective matter, so here is my short checklist in no particular order:
- Subject matter involving daily life, giving the general impression of watching a documentary
- Generally speaking, shallow DoF (except where not appropriate). In general, these are mainly "isolation" shots
- Use of directional light (again, in most cases)
- Use of the cinematic 2.39:1 anamorphic aspect ratio (UPDATE: also included photos framed at the, also quite common, 1.85:1 cinema aspect ratio)
- Processing: this generally involves higher than usual contrast and clarity, WB alterations to carry the intended mood, use of vignetting and, of course, color grading in the cinematic style. This is again very subjective, but would be immediately recognizable as a style you usually encounter in motion pictures. Goes without saying that there is no Photoshop scene manipulation (e.g. removing items) involved.
This is a new long term project, featuring double (in fact, multiple) exposures done in post processing, although it follows a different approach to the mainstream.
One difference is that, in -let's call them "regular"- double exposures featuring portraits, there's usually a human element (headshot, portrait or environmental portrait) and some landscape or still life element overlay. In this project, the secondary exposure(s) is most probably another human element, sometimes a different view of the "primary" one.
In fact, there is no clear distinction about what constitutes the "primary" element of the picture; I wanted to make them in a way that you have to shift the focus of your attention between the different elements. In a way, like when you squint at a picture and there is a different picture underneath.
Another prerequisite was a somewhat gritty, analog/film like look to the pictures. I'm not going for technical perfection with this, so grain and even deliberate blemishes such as (simulated) light leaks and scratches is the norm. In actual fact, my purpose was to make things that would possibly be made in the darkroom, using all analog processes. Albeit, with a lot of effort, admittedly.
This is the reason I used very specific tools in post. Mainly, the Analog Efex Pro plugin from Nik Software (let me remind anyone living under a rock for the last months, that NiK Collection is free). This was used through Lightroom, no Photoshop utilized.
As for the initial shots, some of them are "recycled" from older shootings, which means they didn't make the final cut not before they were inferior, but because some other shot was more conformant to the full set of pictures for that particular shooting. Others are just casual shots of friends and colleagues. And some are staged on purpose for this project. There is even a couple of self-portraits in there.
Thematically speaking, inspiration comes from a number of concepts. One is, actually, ghosts and demons of World traditions, for example Japan or Ireland. Another is from purely psychological concepts such as the ideas of dementia, cyclothymia and depression. And there are certain references to novels and movies, as can be evidenced by the titles on the photos.
From a series of mini-shootings, taking close to 10 minutes each, during a fashion event organized by Showroom10 in Athens, Greece
Styling: Sandy Karagianni
Hair and Makeup: Freddy MakeUp Stage
Assistant photographer: Maria Lazaridi
A great collaboration with three very talented young dancers
These are from a photoshoot to provide a young musician named Greg Giarelis with material for his CD, as well as portfolio stuff to use in marketing material and press releases.
Greg Giarelis is a young Greek guitar player, singer and composer
that is considered one of the greatest hopes of the Greek Blues scene,
and more. This is the conviction of the best of Greek Bluesmen, with
which he has played, and continues so, through the years. Greg had his
first CD, with original work, already available. You can
listen and download it from this CD Baby link.
Photos from a photoshoot at "Ekfrasi Dance School".
Many thanks to the dancers/teachers Elena Lizardou, Maria Karakosta and Maria Mela.
These are from an exciting dance event organized by the Athens Authentic Jazz Dance school led by Irene Ragusini, and was eloquently named "T'Ain't What You Do (If It Ain't Got That Swing)". The location was the, more than fitting, neo-classical building of Parnassos Philological Society.
Authentic jazz, or vernacular jazz, is a dance genre with afro-american roots, especially popular during the 1920s through the 1940s. It draws influences from older afro-american dance, such as Cakewalk, while having inspired later ones (e.g. modern jazz, hip hop, break dance etc). It is usually a solo act, accompanied by swing jazz or blues music (and their musical ancestors), and is heavily based in rhythm and improvisation.
I decided to make retro-looking contact-sheet type collections of the teachers' performances, trying to catch the mood as well as the excitement of the whole experience.
Another great photoshooting at Ekfrasis dance school, this time with Tango movements.
Special thanks go to the beautiful dancing couple, dancers/instructors Maria Mela and Panagiotis Poulimeneas and, of course, to the school's headmaster Elena Lizardou who also hand-made and provided the outfits.
From a shooting at the "Meandros HEMA Team - Piraeus".
These very devoted people are training in what is known as "Historical European Martial Arts" . This, theoretically, includes all known forms of fighting disciplines developed in the European continent. For practical reasons though, they are mainly focused on systems of armed and unarmed combat developed from the 14th century onwards. The reason is, there are no preserved fighting manuals from earlier eras (such as, for example, the Ancient Roman period). The latest known manual dates from about 600 years ago.
This means, of course, that, as archeological research reveals and verifies older sources, the training curriculum could be expanded accordingly. Thus, HEMA is actually a work in progress. That said, the volume of scholarly work surviving is already quite extensive, encompassing hundreds of manuscripts and other works, from famous European masters. Since most of these manuscripts offer a systematic methodology and iconography, they are more than enough for setting up a complete system. Most of them are focused on thrusting and cutting weapons such as the longsword, rapier, dagger, etc, but also styles of unarmed combat like Ringen and Abrazzare.
Of course given we live in modern times, athletes are training using equipment fully approved by the international federation, which offers perfect protection. Since we are talking about martial arts here, one would understand that the original forms could be quite brutal, and HEMA schools are trying to follow the traditional historical systems as far as possible. But the exact opposite to brutality is also evident watching the actual fighting movements and techniques, which perfectly mix grace and gallantry with efficiency.
More on HEMA official federations and unions can be found in the the links provided here.
My thanks to instuctor George Zacharopoulos and also Manolis Rhodokanakis and Tasos Triantafillou for making this possible: may your steel always be true guys!